Newton Celebrates 50 Years Providing Comfort For America: La-Z-Boy South Plant Commemorates Past, Looks to Future of Furniture Production in Newton

Share Article

On June 16 the City of Newton gathered to celebrate a five-decade contribution that has affected millions of Americans. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the people of Newton, a legacy of comfort lives on in living rooms across the country, allowing Americans to relax and recline in La-Z-Boy furniture.

This celebration is a very proud moment for La-Z-Boy South employees as well as the City of Newton,” said Don Mather, plant manager of La-Z-Boy South.

On June 16 the City of Newton gathered to celebrate a five-decade contribution that has affected millions of Americans. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the people of Newton, a legacy of comfort lives on in living rooms across the country, allowing Americans to relax and recline in La-Z-Boy furniture.

La-Z-Boy South, the manufacturing plant located in Newton, Miss., celebrated 50 years of production on June 16. La-Z-Boy local employees and company leadership joined Newton Mayor David Carr and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, as well as members of the Newton community, to honor the plant’s long and esteemed history of producing La-Z-Boy furniture.

“Congratulations to La-Z-Boy South and all of its employees for a very successful half-century of production,” said Kurt Darrow, CEO of La-Z-Boy. “Without question, La-Z-Boy would not be as successful if not for the hard work and talent of the Newton employees. These men and women should be proud of their role in the La-Z-Boy family.”

Darrow took time during the ceremony to honor 10 employees with 40 or more years of service to the La-Z-Boy South plant saying, “I’d like to recognize these employees as they personify our spirit and commitment to providing comfort worldwide. They have contributed greatly to the La-Z-Boy reputation in American culture, ensuring that our brand remains an icon of comfort and quality.”

“This celebration is a very proud moment for La-Z-Boy South employees as well as the City of Newton,” said Don Mather, plant manager of La-Z-Boy South. “As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of producing our first recliner, we remember the many ways we’ve influenced our town, the company and the nation. This plant’s presence has created stability and opportunity for our city’s economy, and we are honored to be a piece of the La-Z-Boy success story.”

During the ceremony, La-Z-Boy South unveiled a large-scale replica of the first La-Z-Boy recliner. The recliner sculpture is a gift to the City of Newton and will be placed in nearby Knabusch Park.    

The History of the Newton Plant
La-Z-Boy came to Newton in 1960 when the company’s founders, Edwin Shoemaker and
Ed Knabusch, were looking to expand the business. Newton was a small, comfortable town with friendly people and easy access to raw materials, a perfect fit for La-Z-Boy. The first recliner was produced on June 6, 1960 – the La-Z-Boy Rocker was later raffled off at a local supermarket opening.

The plant officially opened in November 1960 with 60,000 square feet devoted to upholstery and assembly. Shortly after opening, La-Z-Boy experienced the biggest success to-date with the launch of the “Reclina-Rocker” after it was introduced at the Chicago Market in 1961. After meeting demand for these orders, Newton graduated from upholstery and assembly to become a completely self-supporting manufacturing facility. With a modest number of employees, they produced several La-Z-Boy styles.

Celebrating many production milestones over the years, Newton produced its three-millionth chair on December 9, 1980. And as the company grew and orders increased, La-Z-Boy South produced its 10-millionth chair a short 23 years later. After many expansions – including a leather-cutting center, plywood cutting plant, metal supply center, and poly department – the plant remains an integral part of the La-Z-Boy manufacturing process. Now employing 600 Newton-area residents, La-Z-Boy South produces over one hundred different styles and custom-builds 1,100 pieces of furniture every day.    

Honoring the Newton Community
Over the years many area residents have been a part of the La-Z-Boy South history. From manufacturing to shipping to management, the plant has had a major impact on the local economy, while helping to increase the La-Z-Boy business all across the country.

“Skilled American craftsmen, like those at our La-Z-Boy South plant, give La-Z-Boy a competitive edge – they assemble our famously comfortable furniture from the ground up, one piece at a time, through a process called cellular manufacturing, which is a team-based production process. This plant makes it possible for us to deliver customized furniture to our customers quickly,” said Mather.

At the anniversary celebration, La-Z-Boy thanked all employees past and present for their many contributions, including the ways in which they have helped the company give back to the Newton community for the last 50 years.

“Not only does La-Z-Boy South support the Newton community by employing many of the residents, we also contribute to many local businesses and organizations,” said Mather. “We do our best to make La-Z-Boy a part of local life here. Over the years, the plant has made contributions to several charities, including local fire departments, schools, youth programs, United Givers and Ronald McDonald House Charities,® of which La-Z-Boy corporate is the official furniture provider.”

“It is an honor and privilege to celebrate this truly momentous occasion with the Newton community,” said Darrow.

About La-Z-Boy
Headquartered in Monroe, Mich., La-Z-Boy is one of the world’s leading residential furniture producers. The company manufactures a full line of comfortable products for the living room and family room, including the company’s world-famous recliners, reclining sofas and love seats, sleep sofas, modular furniture and leather upholstery, as well as stationary sofas, love seats and chairs. It is a division of La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE: LZB), one of the world’s leading residential furniture producers, marketing furniture for every room of the home. Comfort. It’s what we do.®

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Alison Hamer

Laura Bohacz
Visit website

Media

FurnitureLa-Z-Boy South 50th Anniversary CelebrationNewton Mayor David Carr La-Z-Boy South managers dedicate La-Z-Boy South’s gift to the City of Newton – recliner replicas in honor of the 50th anniversary celebration of La-Z-Boy South. The sculptures will be housed in nearby Knabusch Park, named after Ed Knabusch, a La-Z-Boy co-founder.La-Z-Boy South 50th Anniversary CelebrationThe City of Newton, plant managers and employees listen to honorary speeches from Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour; Mayor of Newton, David Carr and CEO of La-Z-Boy, Kurt Darrow on June 16 at the 50th anniversary celebration of La-Z-Boy South, the company's first manufacturing facility to open outside of La-Z-Boy headquarters in Monroe, Mich.FurnitureLa-Z-Boy South 50th Anniversary CelebrationKurt Darrow, CEO of La-Z-Boy and La-Z-Boy South plant managers celebrate June 16 at the 50th anniversary celebration of La-Z-Boy South, the company's first manufacturing facility to open outside of La-Z-Boy headquarters in Monroe, Mich.FurnitureLa-Z-Boy South 50th Anniversary CelebrationNewton Mayor David Carr and plant manager Don Mather speak on June 16 at the 50th anniversary celebration of La-Z-Boy South, the company's first manufacturing facility to open outside of La-Z-Boy headquarters in Monroe, Mich.FurnitureLa-Z-Boy South 50th Anniversary CelebrationMississippi Governor Haley Barbour addresses the crowd on June 16 at the 50th anniversary celebration of La-Z-Boy South, the company's first manufacturing facility to open outside of La-Z-Boy headquarters in Monroe, Mich.FurnitureLa-Z-Boy South 50th Anniversary CelebrationPlant managers and employees listen to honorary speeches from Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour; Mayor of Newton, David Carr and CEO of La-Z-Boy, Kurt Darrow on June 16 at the 50th anniversary celebration of La-Z-Boy South, the company's first manufacturing facility to open outside of La-Z-Boy headquarters in Monroe, Mich.